Can Search Queries And Social Data Predict The Presidential Election Outcome?

By the time this election is over more than $2.6 billion will have been spent by the two US presidential candidates on political advertising. I’ve also seen some estimates that say total political advertising this election cycle will top $6 billion. Yet, remarkably, The Atlantic points to a Google Trends report showing a huge November spike for the query “Who’s running for president?”

“Who’s Running for President?”

If you compare “Obama” to “Romney,” Google Trends reflects that Obama comes out just ahead of Romney, the same way many believe this election will turn out later this evening.

Obama Wins Online Presence & Social Media Battle

Rather than a squeaker, Wordstream CTO Larry Kim sees an Obama landslide instead. He bases this prediction on a comparison of the candidates’ online campaigns. Kim looked at a range of variables from both of the campaigns’ online advertising and social media efforts.

Kim calculated that Obama outspent Romney in both paid search and online display advertising.

Kim also found Obama had a more extensive social media presence, greater reach and more engaged fans vs. the Republican challenger.

The Wordstream chart below reflects that Obama has roughly 3X Facebook fans, and more than 20X Twitter followers than Romney.

According to Kim these numbers argue strongly that Obama will win (and win big) this evening. We’ll know relatively soon whether Kim (and Nate Silver) were right or wrong.

Red vs. Blue: Local Search Edition

Finally the good folks at YP have compared local and mobile search behavior in red states and blue states and found the following:

  • Per capita local search: Red states and swing states search roughly the same amount but 45 percent more than blue states
  • Local-mobile search: Red and blue states search nearly the same amount but 25 percent more than swing states
  • Blue state residents search roughly 17 percent more for employment related categories than red state residents (this is ironic given that those out of work are supposed to be supporting Romney)
  • Red state denizens perform 20 percent more government and government services related searches than blue staters (also ironic or unexpected because red staters are supposed to despise government)

Finally back to those confused souls searching on “Who’s running for president?” If those queries aren’t coming from someplace far outside the US I’d really hate to be (or meet) one of those people.

The data reminded me of the very funny SNL skit from several weeks ago satirizing “The Undecided Voter.”

If you haven’t voted yet, you’ve still got a little time. Get out and vote.

Related Entries

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Features: Analysis | Google: Trends | Stats: Popularity | Stats: Search Behavior | Stats: Spend Projections


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • cjvannette

    “Red state denizens perform 20 percent more government and government
    services related searches than blue staters (also ironic or unexpected
    because red staters are supposed to despise government)”

    Only unexpected if you haven’t been paying attention. From the New York Times in Feburary:

    Dean P. Lacy, a professor of political science at Dartmouth College, has identified a twist on that theme in American politics over the last generation. Support for Republican candidates, who generally promise to cut government spending, has increased since 1980 in states where the federal government spends more than it collects. The greater the dependence, the greater the support for Republican candidates.

    Conversely, states that pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits tend to support Democratic candidates. And Professor Lacy found that the pattern could not be explained by demographics or social issues.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide